The Johnstown Tomahawks closed a three-game home stand following a similar, disappointing pattern.
For the second night in a row, the ‘Hawks scored three of the game’s first four goals only to watch the opposition storm back with four consecutive tallies.
Each time, Johnstown scored a late goal to add some drama.
Unfortunately for 2,560 fans in attendance at Cambria County War Memorial Arena on Saturday night, the Tomahawks lost 5-4 to first-place Soo.
That score was identical to Friday night’s setback to visiting Port Huron.
In each game, the Tomahawks built 3-1 leads before falling behind 5-3.
Even in Thursday’s 3-2 win over Port Huron, Johnstown tallied the game’s first three goals and held off the Falcons.
“We have to look at the positives,” Tomahawks coach Jason Spence said of the trend. “You can hang your head for a little while because that’s just natural. But then you have to decide, ‘How are we going to come out?’
“We had won four of six games. Now, we’ve crawled back underneath a little bit. We just have to really fight and get back out of it. We’re still playing hard. We’re still playing good hockey. We’re just not doing enough to get the (wins).”
Soo knows how to finish. The Eagles lead the North Division with 30 wins and 64 points.
“This team all year long has been in these types of games,” Soo coach Bruno Bragagnolo said. “They’re pretty good in these types of games. They just battled and kept whacking away. It could have gone either way. Every time we play this team, these are great games.”
Soo has won five of the eight games against Johnstown. The Tomahawks are 3-4-1 in the series, which included three shootouts (two of those won by the Tomahawks).
“That’s a really good hockey club over there,” Bragagnolo said of the Tomahawks. “They just have to capitalize on the mistakes the other team makes. I think the veterans we have are able to do that a little more than the veterans they have.
“But that’s a good hockey club, a dangerous hockey club. They’ll do well in the playoffs.”
Johnstown’s Cody Gylling scored the only goal of the first period 27 seconds into the game.
Soo’s Eric Rivard tied the score at 3:32 of the second.
But the Tomahawks answered with Jordan Watt’s power-play goal from the right circle, and Cobi Smith-Mass’ successful penalty shot attempt at 18:31.
Smith-Mass beat goaltender Tyler Marble (21-5-3) and provided Johnstown a two-goal cushion while pumping up the crowd.
But with only 48 seconds left in the second, Kyle Froese scored against Chris Truehl to make it 3-2.
“I think the goal we scored right after they went up 3-1 with the penalty shot, that was huge,” Bragagnolo said. “That kept us in the right frame of mind. Then, the third period, I told them whoever wants it more is going to get it.”
Soo’s Alexander Taulien, Brandon Adams and Denver Pierce each scored to make it 5-3.
The Tomahawks had a five-minute major power play that began at 12:29 of the final period in what then was a one-goal game.
But Johnstown managed only five shots during the extended advantage, and three of those came in the final minute of the power play.
Gylling scored with 13 seconds left while Truehl was pulled for an extra attacker. The Tomahawks had one last chance in tight in the closing seconds but couldn’t tie it.
“All in all we played a pretty good game,” Spence said. “We took it to them for the most part. In certain instances the pucks hit the back of our net.
“No discredit, that’s a really good hockey team. They’re in first place for a reason. They take advantage of opportunities. Credit to them.”